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2007 Iowa Hawkeye - Offense

CollegeFootballNews.com
Posted Jun 21, 2007


Preview 2007 Iowa Hawkeye Offense

Iowa Hawkeyes

Preview 2007 - Offense

- 2007 Iowa Preview | 2007 Iowa Defense Preview
-
2007 Iowa Depth Chart | 2006 CFN Iowa Preview 

What you need to know:
The Jake Christensen era starts after four years of the Drew Tate regime, but backup quarterback Arvell Nelson is a terrific prospect who could push hard this fall. With the 1-2 rushing punch of Albert Young and Damian Sims, the ground game will be strong if the questionable offensive line pulls out a better season than last year (when injuries were a major problem). Dominique Douglas and Andy Brodell are emerging targets, and they'll shine with a passer like Christensen winging it. As good as Christensen might be, the offense will try to run first.

Returning Leaders
Passing: Jake Christensen
23-35, 285 yds, 2 TD, 1 INT
Rushing: Albert Young
178 carries, 779 yds, 7 TD
Receiving: Dominique Douglas
49 catches, 654 yds, 2 TD

Star of the offense: Senior RB Albert Young
Player that has to step up and become a star: Sophomore QB Jake Christensen
Unsung star on the rise: Junior OT Dace Richardson
Best pro prospect: Richardson
Top three all-star candidates: 1) Young, 2) WR Dominique Douglas, 3) C Rafael Eubanks
Strength of the offense: Running back, starting receivers
Weakness of the offense:
Offensive line, quarterback experience

Quarterbacks

Projected Starter
:
Everyone's been waiting to see what sophomore Jake Christensen, the star recruit of a few years ago, could do in a full-time role. He got a little bit of work in when Drew Tate got banged up last year, and he wasn't bad completing 19 of 30 passes for 256 yards and two touchdowns with an interception against Northern Illinois. He's not all that big at 6-1 and 215 pounds, but the left-hander is extremely strong with a next-level arm and great passing touch. He's not a runner; he'll stand in the pocket and sling the ball all over the field. While he should be a good one, he'll have to keep improving to cement his hold on the starting job this fall.

Projected Top Reserves: Don't assume Christensen is a bet-the-farm sure thing to be the opening day starter. Christensen is easily the team's best passer, but redshirt freshman Arvell Nelson can play and adds far more options. He's 6-4 and 210 pounds with excellent mobility. From the same high school as Troy Smith, he's a playmaker who can give the offense another dimension that Christensen can't.

While technically neck-and-neck with Nelson for the number two job, 6-4, 215-pound redshirt freshman Ricky Stanzi is the third man in the race. He's also more of a runner than Christensen, and he has the type of live arm that can stretch the field, but he's not the prospect that Nelson is, but he was great this spring.

Watch Out For ... more of a quarterback controversy than you might think. Everyone loves the backup quarterback. There might be some rumblings if Christensen, who all but locked up the job going into the fall, isn't magical early on.
Strength: The backups. Nelson and Stanzi don't have any experience, but they're among the Big Ten's best reserves. Nelson is as dangerous as they come, while Stanzi is a great prospect.
Weakness
:
Overall experience. After three years of Drew Tate, the Hawkeyes are starting over with an unknown starter. Whoever it is might be a good starter, but he'll be an unknown.
Outlook: Is it possible the quarterback situation has been upgraded despite losing a star like Tate and a veteran backup in Jason Manson? Tate was inconsistent last year, partially due to being banged up and partially due to having a bad season, and Manson stunk. With Christensen under center, the passing game should be better, but many defensive coordinators would rather face him than Nelson.
Rating: 7

Running Backs

Projected Starters
:
No one suffered more from the problems on the offensive line than senior Albert Young, who ran for 779 yards and seven touchdowns after tearing off 1,334 yards as a sophomore. He's 5-10, 209 yards and fast, fast fast, but his biggest run was a mere 26 yards. He has the power, he has the toughness, and he has good hands, finishing fourth on the team with 30 catches for 225 yards and a score. Now he has to stay healthy after being banged up throughout his career. If he can last a full season, and if the line is fine, he'll tear off 1,000 yards without a problem.

Paving the way will be long-time blocker Tom Busch. The 5-11 235-pound senior rarely runs, only gets used in the passing game around the goal line, with three of his eight catches going for scores, and is as dependable as they come starting 26 straight games. He might be used more in the offense this year, especially as a pass catcher.

Projected Top Reserves: Considering Young's career problems with injuries, backup Damian Sims will play a big role. The team's second leading rusher with 664 yards and six touchdowns, and a solid five-yard-per-carry average, he's a quick scat back who always produces when called upon. Young might be the team's most talented back, but Sims is the most dangerous.

Behind Busch will be 6-0, 230-pound junior Jordan McLaughlin, a former linebacker who spent all of last year as a backup blocker. When hard yards or offensive production is needed, Busch will get the call, but McLaughlin will see more than his share of time.

Watch Out For ... Sims to get the ball even more. There was a nice rotation between the top two backs, mostly out of necessity, and Sims showed what he could do. Young is the main man, but he needs as much help as he can get to last the season in one piece.
Strength: Pizzazz. Young and Sims are home run threats every time they tough the ball. They can each tear off yards in big chunks.
Weakness
:
Depth. With talented third stringer Shonn Green off the team, there could be a relapse of 2004, when the running game went into the tank after a Spinal Tap drummer array of strange injuries, when Young suffers his annual bumps and bruises and if something happens to Sims.
Outlook: It's up to the offensive line. If it's good, the ground game will crank out far more than the 143 yards per game it came up with last season. If not, Young and Sims will have to make their own plays, and as last year showed, Sims can do that, Young, for the most part, can't. With the passing game making defenses respect the deep ball more, there will be lanes for the backs to run through. If the main 1-2 punch can stay healthy, they'll be terrific.
Rating: 8

Receivers

Projected Starters
:
 Last year's weakness is now a potential strength with the return of junior Andy Brodell at split end and sophomore Dominique Douglas. Brodell is a 6-3, 200-pound speedster who blew up late last year with seven catches for 159 yards and a score against Minnesota and a six-catch, 159-yard, two touchdown torching of Texas in the Alamo Bowl. He wasn't a consistent deep threat and he only had two scores over the first 11 games, but he should be tremendous if there's more consistent quarterback play.

Douglas led the team with 49 catches for 654 yards and two scores as a true freshman. Now he knows what he's doing and should be the go-to target who'll have to matchup with everyone's top corner. While he was steady, he was rarely spectacular and needs to do more with the ball in his hands, and has to start making more big plays, to become the type of receiver who keeps the chains moving and becomes a star.

Losing tight end Scott Chandler hurts, but 6-4, 255-pound junior Tony Moeaki is a good veteran who caught 11 passes for 140 yards and three scores. He's a decent blocker and an excellent receiver who'll flourish now that he's the main man. Don't be shocked if he becomes the main man on third downs and grows into a star.

Projected Top Reserves: 6-3, 195-pound sophomore Trey Stross had a nice first year making 13 catches for 189 yards and a touchdown. He should turn into a tough receiver who can make plays across the middle or deep, and should also be a key special teamer.

Also battling for time behind Douglas is sophomore Anthony Bowman. Only 5-11 and 167 pounds, he's not big, but he's one of the team's fastest players and will occasionally see time as a kick returner. In time, he should develop into one of the team's top field stretchers.

Pushing for time behind Moeaki at tight end is 6-4, 250-pound junior Brandon Myers who'll grow into a good receiver. He was mostly a special teamer last year, he only has one career grab with all the good players in front of him. With excellent athleticism, he'll quickly be a factor.

Watch Out For ... more consistency. The receivers were just trying to keep their head about water going into last year, and they came through fine. Douglas has to keep improving and Brodell has to prove his final two games of last year weren't a fluke.
Strength: Potential. Lots and lots of potential. Brodell has generated a huge buzz after what he did to the Texas secondary full of NFL talent, while Douglas showed what he could do as a true freshman. Moeaki will be fantastic.
Weakness
:
Depth. Stross, Bowman and James Cleveland, who'll play behind Brodell, haven't done much of anything yet. If Brodell and Douglas get hurt/stink, the corps will be back to square one.
Outlook: There's good size, excellent speed, and a lot to get excited about. While the corps might still be a year away from being anything that'll scare anyone, it'll be productive and will open up a can of home runs on some unsuspecting secondaries. It'll be a good enough corps to win with, but not strong enough to carry the offense for stretches.
Rating: 7

Offensive Linemen

Projected Starters
:
 The line might be a concern, but it has a good one to build around in rising junior Dace Richardson at left tackle. He's 6-6 and 305 pounds with the athleticism to grow into an All-Big Ten performer. He wasn't healthy last year and struggled at time with his consistency, but he should be dominant at times this season now that he's 100%.

Richardson might be the most talented player up front, but this is Rafael Eubanks' line. The 6-3, 285-pound sophomore is among the best centers in the Big Ten, and he should be in the hunt for All-America honors if he can stay healthy. A starter right off the bat, he missed time in the middle of the year with an ankle injury. He's a sound, tough all-around blocker who plays like a mature veteran.

Also returning to start is 6-5, 305-pound junior Seth Olsen, who split time between guard and tackle and will get the nod at right guard. A mauling run blocker, he'll also play a big role in protecting the left-handed quarterback, Jake Christensen.

Taking over at right tackle, and with the main job of keeping Christensen clean, will be 6-7, 305-pound sophomore Kyle Calloway. Originally considered for a guard spot, his frame and tight end-like athleticism makes him more of a natural tackle. He saw a little time, but not enough to feel comfortable going into the year.

The other open starting spot, left guard, will be handled by 6-7, 295-pound sophomore Andy Kuempel after seeing a little time at tackle. He's built for the outside and will have to prove he can be steady on the inside. Playing next to Richardson will help.

Projected Top Reserves: Playing behind Calloway will be defensive tackle Alex Kanellis, who made 19 tackles but was mostly known for playing a week after undergoing an appendectomy. He's not huge at 6-4 and 295 pounds, but he's plenty tough. He'll battle with 6-8, 318-pound junior Wesley Aeschliman for the job. With his size and potential, he'll get every shot this fall to push Calloway out of the starting role.

At some point, 6-7, 300-pound sophomore Dan Doering will be a factor. He has as much talent as anyone on the line at either tackle or guard, but he hasn't been able to see much action yet. He'll start out behind Kuempel at left guard.

Watch Out For ... lots and lots of shuffling. It's going to take a while to make the pieces fit. Don't get comfortable with the depth chart.
Strength: Type. The Iowa linemen are all, for the most part, clones at around 285 to 300 pounds and tough. That allows for the coaching staff to play around with different ideas and different combinations to try to find the right fit. It also helps to have Kirk Ferentz, who always puts together great lines, as the head coach.
Weakness
:
Guard. In a perfect world, Olsen is playing right tackle on the other side of Richardson, but he's been forced to move to right guard.
Outlook: And here's the problem ... maybe. Give credit to the coaching staff for not letting the line go into the tank after a slew of injuries hit the front five, and now it's going to take a phenomenal effort to be better overall than last year. Eubanks and Richardson are near-certain all-stars, and there are several good prospects to eventually step up and shine. If everyone stays healthy, this will be a far better line at the end of the year than at the beginning.
Rating: 6.5
  

Related Stories
2007 Iowa Preview
 -by CollegeFootballNews.com  Jun 22, 2007
2007 Iowa Hawkeye - Defense
 -by CollegeFootballNews.com  Jun 21, 2007
2007 Iowa Hawkeye - Depth Chart
 -by CollegeFootballNews.com  Jun 21, 2007








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